For the first time, a Suffolk County jury heard evidence Wednesday that a Sound Beach contractor was intoxicated the night he hit and killed a neighbor and left the scene in his box truck.
The assessment that Christopher Campbell, 37, was drunk the night of Oct. 18, 2014, came from his now former girlfriend, a part-time bartender.
Campbell is on trial in Central Islip, charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and other crimes in the death of Tracy Mangino, 40, who was walking home on North Country Road after a night of drinking.
Campbell was initially charged only with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, but after he rejected numerous plea deals prosecutors last year indicted him on alcohol-related charges. They are based only on witness accounts of his behavior, but other witnesses have denied that Campbell was drinking heavily.
Campbell’s then-girlfriend, Christine Evko of Coram, testified during questioning by Assistant District Attorney Maggie Bopp that she’d been trying to reach Campbell all night and never heard from him. She made dinner, but did not eat it, she said.
“Were you angry?” Bopp asked.
“A little,” Evko said.
Campbell and his friend Nick DiStefano showed up around 11:30 p.m., she said. That was about 15 minutes after Mangino had been killed down the road.
“They were laughing and joking around,” Evko said. “Chris cracked open a beer and tried to get me to join in.”
But Evko said instead she went to bed, annoyed. Bopp asked why.
“He’s been out drinking,” she said. “He didn’t care that I was mad. He’s giddy. His eyes were shot.”
Bopp asked, “What did that mean to you?”
Evko replied, “He’s drunk.”
She said she based that not only on her experience as a bartender for 10 years, but also on her experience with Campbell. He normally was “very serious,” she said.
The next morning, she said DiStefano and another friend came to the house and had a hushed conversation with Campbell. Afterward, he was upset and nervous, she said. Then, days later, he finally told her his truck had been impounded as part of an investigation, but she said he insisted it wasn’t him. Even so, she said she noticed he got rid of receipts from that night.
During cross-examination by defense attorney William Keahon of Hauppauge, Evko conceded she already had suspicions that night that Campbell was cheating on her, and she was upset about it.
“I wasn’t sure he was 100 percent invested in the relationship,” she said.
“Did you love him?” Keahon asked.
Evko paused, and said: “I had feelings for him.”